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City won't follow the Soo in cutting firefighters says mayor.

"There is no plan to go down any further than we have because if you go down too far then you start getting a lot of overtime."
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Mayor Al McDonald says North Bay won't be following the Soo lead in cutting fire department positions.

See the story here: Big staff cuts coming to Soo fire department

"I saw the report out of Sault Ste. Marie," McDonald told BayToday.

"Currently with our fire department we have lost eight positions through attrition so our compliment is down quite a bit as well as it is.

"So now we have platoons of 18, and you see our overtime costs are going down. There is no plan to go down any further than we have because if you go down too far  then you start getting a lot of overtime because we have to provide fire protection services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. So now we are fine, the platoons are at a good size and I have not heard any member of council say they want to reduce the fire services further."  

McDonald is also concerned with the safety risk of cutting more firefighters.

"Safety is the number one priority, and our community deserves it. It's a balance obviously between what we can afford and the services that we provide, but there are no safety concerns here in our community,  We have very professional firefighters that are committed to our city. I am proud of what they do. They are well trained and they believe in what they are doing, they believe in our community so I think we are well served with our local fire department." 

Meanwhile in the Soo, proposed cuts are causing concern in outlying communities that rely on the city for help when another is in need. 

The District of Algoma Mutual Aid Association is made up of more than 30 fire departments — professional and volunteer — from across the Algoma region.

Sault Ste. Marie Fire Chief, and former North Bay Deputy Chief Mike Figliola has laid out a plan to cut 20 firefighters over the next three years and hire a smaller number of EMS paramedics.

He also plans to reduce the number of firefighters on duty from the current 17 to between 10 and 13 at any one time. 

See complete story: City cuts may affect entire Algoma region, says area fire chief

Jeff Turl

About the Author: Jeff Turl

Jeff is a veteran of the news biz. He's spent a lengthy career in TV, radio, print and online, covering both news and sports. He enjoys free time riding motorcycles and spoiling grandchildren.
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